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More bikes of the Tour de France: what the pros are riding this year

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BMC's Cadel Evans and George Hincapie are using the company's new Impec model.

BMC's Cadel Evans and George Hincapie are using the company's new Impec model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Quick Step is using FFWD wheels in this year's Tour de France, including a new 60mm-deep model.

Quick Step is using FFWD wheels in this year's Tour de France, including a new 60mm-deep model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Seat tubes on Team Milram's Focus Izalco Team frames are noticeably asymmetrical.

Seat tubes on Team Milram's Focus Izalco Team frames are noticeably asymmetrical.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Most Team Milram riders opt for fi'zi:k Arione saddles with Niki Terpstra being a notable exception.

Most Team Milram riders opt for fi'zi:k Arione saddles with Niki Terpstra being a notable exception.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Focus has aimed for a balance of stiffness, rider comfort, and crash resistance on Team Milram's Izalco Team frames.

Focus has aimed for a balance of stiffness, rider comfort, and crash resistance on Team Milram's Izalco Team frames.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Brake and derailleur lines enter the frame right at the tapered head tube.

Brake and derailleur lines enter the frame right at the tapered head tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Team Milram is using the Focus Izalco Team in this year's Tour de France.

Team Milram is using the Focus Izalco Team in this year's Tour de France.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Team Milram's Focus Izalco Team frames feature modestly tapered steerer tubes.

Team Milram's Focus Izalco Team frames feature modestly tapered steerer tubes.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Chunky aluminum replaceable derailleur hangers are mounted to the rear ends of Team Milram's Focus Izalco Teams.

Chunky aluminum replaceable derailleur hangers are mounted to the rear ends of Team Milram's Focus Izalco Teams.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Team Milram's Niki Terpstra gets a bit of customization on his Focus Izalco Team.

Team Milram's Niki Terpstra gets a bit of customization on his Focus Izalco Team.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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FSA's OS-99 stem features a carbon exterior surrounding a thin aluminum core.

FSA's OS-99 stem features a carbon exterior surrounding a thin aluminum core.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Team Milram is again using Carbonsports Lightweight wheels.

Team Milram is again using Carbonsports Lightweight wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Continental tubulars are mounted to FFWD carbon rims on the Quick Step team bikes.

Continental tubulars are mounted to FFWD carbon rims on the Quick Step team bikes.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BBB supplies Quick Step with team-edition computers.

BBB supplies Quick Step with team-edition computers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Quick Step's Eddy Merckx EMX-5 frames include noticeably swoopy seat stays.

Quick Step's Eddy Merckx EMX-5 frames include noticeably swoopy seat stays.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Quick Step team bikes are fitted with Deda bars and stems.

Quick Step team bikes are fitted with Deda bars and stems.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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FFWD wheels are built around DT Swiss hubs.

FFWD wheels are built around DT Swiss hubs.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Quick Step captain Sylvain Chavanel has scored two stage wins so far in this year's Tour de France aboard Eddy Merckx's latest EMX-5 model.

Quick Step captain Sylvain Chavanel has scored two stage wins so far in this year's Tour de France aboard Eddy Merckx's latest EMX-5 model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Quick Step's Eddy Merckx EMX-5 frames are fitted with Campagnolo Record components.

Quick Step's Eddy Merckx EMX-5 frames are fitted with Campagnolo Record components.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Quick Step frames are fitted with these simply chain watchers.

Quick Step frames are fitted with these simply chain watchers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This SRAM chainring is normally used only for time trials but some Milram riders are using them on the road, too.

This SRAM chainring is normally used only for time trials but some Milram riders are using them on the road, too.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Chain watchers have become virtually required equipment at the Tour de France.

Chain watchers have become virtually required equipment at the Tour de France.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The Focus Izalco Team frames of Team Milram feature BB30 bottom brackets. Derailleur housings are internally routed through full-length tubes visible on the surface.

The Focus Izalco Team frames of Team Milram feature BB30 bottom brackets. Derailleur housings are internally routed through full-length tubes visible on the surface.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Reynolds provides Ag2r-La Mondiale with a variety of its carbon wheels.

Reynolds provides Ag2r-La Mondiale with a variety of its carbon wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Selle San Marco provides Ag2r-La Mondiale with matching saddles.

Selle San Marco provides Ag2r-La Mondiale with matching saddles.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Time's recently introduced iClic pedals are used by Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Time's recently introduced iClic pedals are used by Ag2r-La Mondiale.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ag2r-La Mondiale is again using its light and snappy Kuota KOM frames.

Ag2r-La Mondiale is again using its light and snappy Kuota KOM frames.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ag2r-La Mondiale team bikes feature full SRAM Red groups.

Ag2r-La Mondiale team bikes feature full SRAM Red groups.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM supplies Ag2r-La Mondiale with its Red BB30 cranks.

SRAM supplies Ag2r-La Mondiale with its Red BB30 cranks.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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A pair of Elite cages are mounted to the Kuota KOMs of Ag2r-La Mondiale.

A pair of Elite cages are mounted to the Kuota KOMs of Ag2r-La Mondiale.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ag2r-La Mondiale's Kuota KOM frames are fitted with SRAM Red brake calipers.

Ag2r-La Mondiale's Kuota KOM frames are fitted with SRAM Red brake calipers.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The BMC Impec's 'shell node' lugs are formed in two halves. BMC says this yields better tube alignment and more precise control over glue placement.

The BMC Impec's 'shell node' lugs are formed in two halves. BMC says this yields better tube alignment and more precise control over glue placement.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC team sponsor Easton provides Cadel Evans with special world champion-edition wheels.

BMC team sponsor Easton provides Cadel Evans with special world champion-edition wheels.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Milram riders have their choice of multiple FSA bar bends.

Milram riders have their choice of multiple FSA bar bends.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The offset seat stays on the Impec supposedly yields a slightly softer ride - but we can't help but notice the unsightly gaps in the lug halves.

The offset seat stays on the Impec supposedly yields a slightly softer ride - but we can't help but notice the unsightly gaps in the lug halves.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Cables are internally routed in typical BMC fashion.

Cables are internally routed in typical BMC fashion.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Dropouts on the Impec are made of molded carbon fiber.

Dropouts on the Impec are made of molded carbon fiber.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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George Hincapie (BMC) also gets a little bit of customization on his Impec.

George Hincapie (BMC) also gets a little bit of customization on his Impec.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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BMC frames have always been easy to spot from a distance and the latest Impec is no different.

BMC frames have always been easy to spot from a distance and the latest Impec is no different.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Cadel Evans gets his own personalized saddle from Selle Italia.

Cadel Evans gets his own personalized saddle from Selle Italia.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Ag2r-La Mondiale team riders grab hold of Deda bars.

Ag2r-La Mondiale team riders grab hold of Deda bars.
(Image credit: James Huang)

BMC's new Impec hits the global stage

BMC debuted its new Impec flagship at the Tour de France under Cadel Evans and George Hincapie and like most frames to come out of the Swiss company, it's an undeniably unique looking machine.

Interestingly, the Impec is about 200g heavier than the current TeamMachine SLR01 – putting the bare frame at around 1,130g – though its stout construction suggests that extra mass also brings also additional stiffness. Either way, modern build kits still easily let the team stay near the UCI-mandated 6.8kg minimum bike weight and the new construction technology used for the Impec suggests that further developments are forthcoming.

The Impec's carbon tubes are woven on-site in BMC's new Swiss facility by industrial robots – a process that BMC claims yields more consistent end results than tubes laid up by hand and a far lower rejection rate. Joining the tubes together are injection-molded short-fiber composite 'shell nodes', which are essentially carbon lugs that are formed in two halves to allow for more precise glue application and tube placement.

Additional features include molded composite dropouts, a tapered front end, a BB30 bottom bracket shell, and BMC's preferred internal cable routing.

BMC team mechanics build up each rider's bike with a full Campagnolo Record group, Easton bars and stems, Selle Italia saddles, Speedplay Zero pedals, Elite bottle cages, and CycleOps Cervo and Joule computers. Easton also supplies a variety of carbon tubular wheels, all wrapped with Continental tires.

Breaking away on the Quick Step Eddy Merckx EMX-5

Sylvain Chavanel's wins in Tour de France stages 2 and 7 both came on the Eddy Merckx EMX-5 – the Belgian company's flagship road racer designed in conjunction with Pinarello and built with Toray 46HM carbon fiber.

On the surface, it's a fairly standard rig featuring large-diameter tubing, semi-aero shapes, a tapered front end, a well bolstered bottom bracket area, and curved stays that are said to yield a more comfortable ride. Merckx's views on frame geometry, though, are perhaps a bit more telling as to the bike's fit and performance, though.

Head tube angles are notably slack – ranging from just 69.7 up to 72.5 degrees – and head tube lengths are fairly generous for a top-end race bike. Bottom brackets are also positioned quite low at up to 71mm of drop. In total, it adds up to a predictable-handling and comfortable rig that faithfully adheres to Merckx's philosophy on stage race bikes: while light enough to climb, they have to be able to descend properly, too; and there's little sense in suffering through to the end of a stage if you're too fatigued from road vibration to contest the finish.

Quick Step dresses up its EMX-5 framesets with Campagnolo Record groups, Look KéO pedals, Prologo saddles, Tacx bottle cages, BBB computers, and Deda bars, stems and seatposts. Rolling duties are handled by Continental tubulars glued on to FFWD carbon tubular wheels – including a brand-new 1,350g 60mm-deep model with special brake surfaces that are claimed to offer wet weather performance comparable to alloy rims.

Ag2r-La Mondiale takes mountaintop stage win with Kuota's KOM

Track racer Christophe Riblon pulled off a coup of sorts by winning stage 14's mountaintop finish at Ax-3 Domaines – aboard the suitably named Kuota KOM, no less.

The KOM is Kuota's lightest frame with a claimed weight of just 900g and we can say from firsthand experience that it's also one of the quicker handling machines in the peloton with its stubby 402mm chain stays and ultra-short wheelbase.

Kuota has also infused its flagship model with giant tube sizes, a BB30 bottom bracket, and a tapered front end for rigidity – all resulting in a lot of surface area. So what's the catch?

Tube walls are paper-thin for one, which might lead some to believe that the KOM isn't terribly durable. However, AG2R-La Mondiale also uses the same frames for Paris-Roubaix so apparently they're sufficiently tough.

Bolted on to each team KOM frame is a complete SRAM Red group – including the standard PowerDome cassette and titanium-caged front derailleur instead of the stamped PG-1070 cassette and optional steel cages of most SRAM-sponsored teams – along with Reynolds carbon tubular wheels and 'Michelin' tubulars (though Michelin doesn't currently offer tubulars to consumers).

Finishing kit includes Deda bars and stems, Selle San Marco saddles, Time iClic pedals, Elite bottle cages, Sigma computers, and Gore Ride-On cable systems.

Focus Izalcos for Team Milram

Team Milram has stuck to its German roots with Focus's top-end Izalco Team. Claimed weight for the carbon frame is respectably light at just under 1kg but with complete team bikes still so easily falling below the UCI-mandated 6.8kg minimum, Focus has wisely decided to concentrate on a more complete picture.

Good frame stiffness comes courtesy of the higher-modulus carbon fiber content, tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/4" front end, BB30 bottom bracket, asymmetrical seat tube, and modestly oversized tubing throughout. However, rider comfort is still clearly a high priority given the spindly seat stays and relatively small-diameter 27.2mm seatpost.


Team Milram's Niki Terpstra gets a bit of customization on his Focus Izalco Team.

Pro bikes lead a tough life so durability and ease of maintenance play roles, too. Focus has reinforced the top tube where handlebars would normally hit during a crash, full-length derailleur housings are guided end-to-end in the frame for easy line changes and consistent foul-weather shift performance, and in the case of poor road conditions there's even clearance at either end for wider 25mm tires.

Team bikes are dressed in SRAM Red groups – with steel-caged front derailleurs – ultralight CarbonSports Lightweight wheels mounted with Continental tires, fi'zi:k saddles, Speedplay Zero pedals, Garmin Edge 500 computers, Tacx Tao Carbon cages, and FSA bars, stems, headsets and seatposts.